Melbourne Heart FC fell 2-1 to Sydney FC on Sunday evening in Round 10 of the Hyundai A-League at Allianz Stadium, despite mounting a second-half comeback.
The Red and White were hit with a double blow just before the half-time break and entered the interval with a two goal deficit.
A piece of individual skill from Sky Blues captain Alessandro Del Piero and a opportunistic goal from Ranko Despotovic did the damage - although the score line flattered the home side after a first half which produced very few opportunities for either side.
But Melbourne Heart emerged from the break with renewed vigor, and bombarded the Sky Blues' goal, pulling a goal back through Michael Mifsud - his first goal for the Red and White.
However, the combination of Sydney goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic, and a miss from the penalty spot from substitute Harry Kewell, saw Melbourne Heart fall just short, in a match in which they deserved more.
Melbourne Heart accrued 18 shots – eight of which were on target – 11 more than Sydney FC managed, with both the home side's shots on target resulting in goals.
In a relatively uneventful opening stanza - which sprang into life in the dying embers of the half - neither Sydney FC or Melbourne Heart looked like breaking the deadlock.
Italian midfielder Andrea Migliorini had the first real sight on goal in the seventh minute, collecting the ball from 25 metres out, but he fired his shot straight at Janjetovic - who proved to be one of the busiest players in the second half.
But the game, which appeared destined to be scoreless at the break, was turned on its head as Del Piero beat Massimo Murdocca and Migliorini, before guiding a shot past Andrew Redmayne for the opener.
It took two minutes for Despotovic to double Sydney's lead and condemn the Red and White to a shock 2-0 deficit at half time.
But John Aloisi's side emerged from the break with renewed energy. Aloisi introduced Mate Dugandzic on the right and he proved effective, while Kewell entered the fray in the 57th minute.
Almost immediately Melbourne Heart gained the ascendancy, and within nine minutes of Kewell’s introduction, the Red and White had the opportunity to pull a goal back after Nick Kalmar’s free kick struck Joel Chianese’s hand in the penalty box.
However, Kewell directed his spot-kick wide of the mark and the Heart were forced to dig deep to find another way back into the match.
It took just five minutes to find an avenue to goal and Kewell fashioned the response, flicking a ball to Dugandzic who dinked an excellent through-ball to the energetic Mifsud who opened his Melbourne Heart account, rounding Janjetovic and slotting into an empty net.
Mifsud almost stole in to score his second three minutes later, but blasted over as momentum swung heavily in Heart’s favour.
Another neat passage of play featuring Kewell had Williams through one-on-one with Janjetovic, but Sydney’s stopper again denied the Red and White with a close-range stop.
Aziz Behich, Williams and substitute Golgol Mebrahtu threw everything at Janjetovic with further chances in the final stages, but the equaliser proved elusive as Sydney FC held on.
Match DetailsSunday, 15 December 2013Hyundai A-League Round 10Sydney FC 2 (Alessandro Del Piero 43’, Ranko Despotovic 45+1’)Melbourne Heart FC 1 (Michael Mifsud 72’)Allianz Stadium, SydneyHT: 2-0Referee: Chris BeathAttendance: 16,008
Sydney FC Starting XI: 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 4. Ranko DESPOTOVIC (15. Terry McFLYNN 83’), 6. Nikola PETKOVIC, 8. Pedrag BOJIC, 10. Alessandro DEL PIERO (C) (21. Yairo YAU 46’), 11. Richard GARCIA, 16. Joel CHIANESE, 19. Nick CARLE, 22. Ali ABBAS, 28. Matthew THOMPSON (7. Brett EMERTON 46’)Substitutes not used: 1. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 5. Matthew JURMANYellow cards: Sebastian Ryall 45+2’,Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Heart FC Starting XI>: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 3. Robbie WIELAERT (C), 7. Iain RAMSAY (23. Mate DUGANDZIC 46’), 8. Massimo MURDOCCA, 11.Michael MIFSUD, 15. David WILLIAMS, 16. Aziz BEHICH, 17. Jason HOFFMAN, 22. Nick KALMAR, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (14. Golgol MEBRAHTU 85’),, 25. Andrea MIGLIORINI (10. Harry KEWELL 57’)Substitutes not used 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 6. Patrick GERHARDTYellow cards: Jason Hoffman 30’, Andrea Migliorini 32’, Massimo Murdocca 53’, Michael Mifsud 70’Red cards: Nil